Why do people behave the way they do?

WHY is this question important? Simple. Without incorporating this understanding about human behaviour in the workplace, your efforts at getting your people to engage in sustainable innovation and continuous improvement may be ineffectual. We don’t pretend that we know the absolute answer to this question. One thing, of which we are sure, is that people do not behave rationally in many situations where rational behaviour appears to be self-evident. Don’t worry. When we know absolutely, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, we have found the following model to be very helpful in our approach to working with people in the real world of the workplace. The credit for the thinking behind this model is not ours. That belongs to Kurt Lewin (1890-1947), universally recognised as the founder of modern social psychology. However, with due respect to the great man, we like to think that we have taken his thinking and applied it to our real experiences of why people do and say what they do and say in the workplace. We won’t win a Nobel prize for the science of our research, but this model has proven itself too many times for us to discard it. Which is why we are presenting it to you. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. We run the risk of upsetting some behavioural theorists, but we’ll take that on the chin as we ply our trade in the university of life. B = f (P x E) Interpret this as a symbolic equation. Behaviour is a function of the Person and their interaction with their Environment. Simply put, behaviour is governed by the factors internal to the person and by the factors external to the person. Very simply put, you behave according to who/what you are as a person and the prevailing situation. Which explains why people who appear as quiet and unassuming at work can be very different away from work. Why people who appear confident and assertive at work can be shy and retiring in social situations. And so on. In our model as presented here, we use the environment (situation) of the workplace. What are the factors internal to a person which influence their behaviour? Shown under P. What are the factors external to a person that influence their behaviour in the workplace? Shown under E. Each of the factors under P will be different for you and each one of your staff. No two people will have exactly the same competence, the same perceptions, the same temperament, the same experience. And under E, everyone’s perceptions, understanding and resolution of these factors will differ. Phew. It is no wonder thousands of managers we have worked with consistently tell us that the hardest part of their job is managing the people factor. Fortunately, when managed well, it’s also the most rewarding part of a manager’s job. And how do you manage all of the above factors? It’s a real challenge. But we have consistently validated through our work with people in the workplace that there are five factors that have a huge influence on the behaviour of people. These are: * Their perceptions * Their values * Their manager or team leader * Their work mates * Their self-pride The tools that you use to change or improve behaviour in the workplace need to incorporate these five factors. Don’t ignore the other factors – in fact they need to be dealt with as they present as problems or opportunities through the implementation of your tools. • Daniel Kehoe, author of the international best-selling books, ‘You Lead, They’ll Follow. How to inspire, lead and manage people. Really.’ Volumes 1, 2 and 3 published by McGraw Hill, delivers the You Lead, They’ll Follow Experience® for leadership, people management and business improvement to small, medium and large organisations. Systematic-Innovation® see T 08 9477 1135 E

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